Green Tea – apart from water, the most consumed beverage in the world, is well known for its many health benefits. Green tea is a superfood and is well known for being an antioxidant superstar. It is perhaps the most effective natural protection against certain cancers and is quickly becoming known for the incredible and diverse benefits it has for the skin.
The main active ingredient in green tea is known as epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, a type of catechin, or polyphenol. It is most known for being a powerful free radical scavenger and is roughly 100 times more powerful than vitamin C. One of the major contributing factors to skin ageing is free radical damage. If we can combat free radical damage, we can delay the ageing process significantly, and reverse existing signs of ageing from the skin.
The cellular ageing process involves 4 stages – oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, mitochondria damage and cellular senescence. Free radicals are responsible for setting this process in motion. Extrinsic ageing is due to factors which cause ageing to accelerate and that come from outside the body. Our bodies are naturally equipped with antioxidants like superoxide dismutase (SOD), that act as free radical scavengers, but due to sheer volume of free radicals that are produced in our bodies, our own natural antioxidants are unable to fight off all free radical damage. Although oxygen is a molecule that is indispensable to life, under the right circumstances it can be detrimental to life. A free radical can be defined as any molecular species capable of independent existence that contains an unpaired electron in its atomic orbital. These are highly reactive species capable of in the nucleus and the other membranes of the cells damaging biologically relevant molecules such as DNA, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. Free radicals and other reactive oxygen species (ROS) are derived either from normal metabolic processes, or from external sources such as X rays, cigarettes, pollution, industrial chemicals and UV radiation. Internal triggers of free radicals include inflammation, mitochondria, phagocytosis, exercise etc.
Oxidative stress is a term used to describe the condition of oxidative damage resulting when the balance between free radical generation and antioxidant defence is unfavourable. This means that the body’s own antioxidant protection has not been enough and external supplementation with antioxidants are necessary for optimal protection. When oxidative stress is left untreated, lipid peroxidation sets in. As oxidative stress causes destruction of lipids, essential fatty acids and vitamins, our cell membranes are left vulnerable to free radical damage, and, of course, skin hydration issues. When these components are destroyed, the cell membrane (which controls active and passive transfer of substances in and out of the cell) becomes more permeable. Apart from loss of water (and natural moisturising factors), this means that free radicals gain access to the cell’s interior, leading to damage in the cell’s mitochondria.
Mitochondria are like little batteries and provide energy for cells. They play another important role – to initiate cell death in damaged cells. If damaged cells are left untreated, they may become senescent, or cancerous. Senescent cells are cells that have lost their ability to replicate and perform their normal functions. If, for instance, a fibroblast has reached cellular senescence, it will no longer produce the skin’s building blocks – collagen, elastin, fibronectin and hyaluronic acid.
Many studies have been done on the effect of EGCG on oxidative stress and cellular ageing. These findings suggest that ECGC can resist cellular senescence significantly and even reactivate and restore senescent cells. EGCG also has the ability to restore damage done to the DNA of cells. This means that green tea used topically, on a daily basis, may protect our skins from all forms of ageing and restore normal cell functioning in a skin that has significant signs of extrinsic ageing.
OptoDerm’s Green Tea Mask and Serum contain ‘vectorised’ green tea catechins. Vectorising is a process that makes them more acceptable to the skin, so they penetrate the stratum corneum easier. Green Tea Serum contains roughly double the amount of catechins as Green Tea Mask and should be used daily as an antioxidant and support for all skins. It contains ‘skin similar’ phospholipids and is designed as a leave-on product. Green Tea Mask contains additional soothing peptides and is ideal when used on a weekly basis or as a post procedure treatment in the clinic.
In our next blog post well look at the various ways in which we can use these products to benefit other skin conditions. We’ll also discuss why drinking green tea alone is not enough.